A new height for the summer mesopause: Antarctica, December 2007

S Kirkwood, H Nilsson, R J Morris, A R Klekociuk, D A Holdsworth, Nicholas J Mitchell

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Two VHF atmospheric radars operating in Antarctica during austral summer 2007/2008 found the Polar Mesosphere Summer Echo (PMSE) layer at 3-5 km higher altitude during the early season, compared to the late season, and to earlier seasons. Temperatures from the microwave limb sounder on the Aura satellite show that the height of the cold summer mesopause was similar to 3 km higher than usual at the same time. The winter polar vortex over Antarctica did not break up until late December, so that eastward winds in the lower stratosphere were as strong as westward winds in the upper stratosphere during the early part of the austral summer. We find that a combination of limited gravity wave forcing from below in the same hemisphere and interhemisphere coupling between the winter stratosphere/mesosphere and the summer mesopause may explain the observations, and suggest a need for reappraisal of the formation mechanisms for the summer mesopause.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL23810
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume35
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2008

Keywords

  • lidar observations
  • mesosphere
  • diurnal-variations
  • winds
  • alomar model
  • noctilucent clouds

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